LMAS District Health Department is issuing this Public Health Warning as COVID cases since January 3, 2022 are rising at a rate of 103 every two days. Omicron, like the variants before it, will create minimal symptoms in some people and others will be very ill, hospitalized, and more will die. What omicron does better than other variants is its ability to infect people, which is why we need everyone to heed this warning.

LMAS District Health Department advises the following:

  1. If you haven’t been vaccinated or gotten your booster, please do so.
  2. Wear a multi-layer mask, two masks (such as a surgical mask with a cloth mask over it), or KN95 in indoor public or other crowded spaces. Regardless of which mask(s) you wear, you need to make sure they fit snuggly without any gaps on the sides, chin, or nose. No mask will protect you or others if you don’t wear it properly and consistently.
  3. Get tested for COVID if you don’t feel well or believe you have been exposed to someone with COVID. 4. Stay home when sick except to seek medical care.
  4. Follow current CDC isolation and quarantine guidance.

We need a majority of residents to get vaccinated, stay up to date with boosters and wear masks properly whenever people are out in public or at crowded venues. The numbers below tell the urgency of the present and worsening situation in our counties.

During the 22 months from March 1, 2020 to January 12, 2022, the LMAS counties have had 5,661 COVID cases and 49 deaths. The 1,343 COVID infections that occurred in the six weeks from December 1, 2021 to January 12, 2022 represent about 25% of the total cases so far in the pandemic, and the 14 deaths represent nearly 30% of all COVID deaths in our counties.

With cases rising so rapidly, LMAS is unable to keep up with the case investigations and contact tracing. Our priorities are schools, long-term care facilities, and other congregate settings. If you test positive for COVID or are a close contact of someone with COVID, visit CDC.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/your-health/quarantine-isolation.html to learn how to protect yourself and others.

We must not take omicron lightly. Everyone age 5 and up is eligible to be vaccinated. Overall, the LMAS counties are only 59.1% fully vaccinated. Although early reports suggest that omicron may not be as deadly as delta, the sheer number of cases will still bring a surge of people needing hospitalization and more deaths. There has been much talk in our communities about the effectiveness of monoclonal antibodies treatment to keep infected patients from becoming seriously ill, being hospitalized, or dying. Unfortunately, as omicron has been spreading rapidly across the country, monoclonal treatments are in short supply. Preventive measures must be utilized.

These are the most basic of public health mitigation strategies. For your own health, your communities, and for local health care, please do these small things. We must work together, now more than ever.